Happy Diwali
October 21, 2006 9:55 PM   Subscribe

The Festival of Lights, Good vs. Evil Diwali is the Hindu Festival of Lights that falls each year in October or November. This year, Diwali is on the 21st of October 2006. Legends about Diwali are many, from the story of Prince Prahlad, immortal in his faith in the universe to the story of Ram and Sita returning from exile to Ayodhya. My favourite is not a story so much as a snippet of what is actually said to happen tonight, not the mythology behind it. Lakshmi walks tonight, she is the Goddess of Wealth and Prosperity, and lamps [diya or deep] are lit and placed at hearths and entrances so as to help her find her way. Accompanying her is the elephant headed one, Ganesh, the remover of obstacles and giver of knowledge. Just welcome them into your home.
posted by infini (22 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
aha! I wondered why all our Indian neighbors had little tealights at their doors tonight. Thanks for the links, so that I did not have to do the research myself. :)
posted by sarahnade at 10:01 PM on October 21, 2006

Fascinating! I love happy festivals, and spooky rituals.
posted by owhydididoit at 10:21 PM on October 21, 2006

thanks from Sunnyvale, too. Earlier this month I thought all the lights going up were a cultural confusion thing, but I eventually groked that there was a big shindig going on for my abundant Indian H2B neighbors (my area of town is pushing 70% Indian, but, alas, it's all first-gen so all the babes are taken...).

Funny, my nazi complex has a Directive not to put up lights out of season, now I know what that was for.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 10:50 PM on October 21, 2006

Hindus have all the best holidays : >

(have a bright Diwali!)
posted by amberglow at 12:06 AM on October 22, 2006

Bliss out, Hindus! Bliss out, Jains! Bliss out, Sikhs! Love and peace to you all.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:10 AM on October 22, 2006

"Hindus have all the best holidays"

And the best Gods as well. I remember how much effort it took to force me and my little brother to Sunday school.

I imagine we'd have been a great deal more enthusiastic if we'd gotten to learn about cool Gods such as Ganesh, Vishnu, Rama, Vishwakarma or Hanuman. Then we'd a started in on the Godesses - Parvati, Durga and Kali - wow!

Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying Judeo-Christain Gods aren't cool but I did use my time in India productively and tried to learn as much as I could...
posted by Mutant at 1:33 AM on October 22, 2006

Don't they also still have untouchable castes?
posted by A189Nut at 2:20 AM on October 22, 2006

Aren't we supposed to sneer at anyone who believes in a Deity or Deities? Or is that just Christians?
posted by mattholomew at 4:46 AM on October 22, 2006

posted by languagehat at 4:48 AM on October 22, 2006

For those of you not likely to make the trip to India, but still wanting to see the festival, Trinidad puts together a Divali of its own.
posted by micayetoca at 7:01 AM on October 22, 2006

My friends from South India call it Deepavali. Regardless, have a good one!
posted by arcticwoman at 7:52 AM on October 22, 2006

Aren't we supposed to sneer at anyone who believes in a Deity or Deities? Or is that just Christians?

Familiar gods are boring. Other people's gods are cool.
posted by skoosh at 8:06 AM on October 22, 2006

Either name works - Diwali is more common in the North, arcticwoman, and in Singapore its called Deepawali. Sort of like Xmas.

A189Nut- yes, they have untouchable castes and always will, but how they play a role in society is changing, slowly, and only in the urban areas but changing.
posted by infini at 9:21 AM on October 22, 2006

Or is that just Christians?

Hindu don't prosyletize (sp?) so their religious issues, if any, are their problem. When 70+% of this fundies in this country think Bush is the 1.5th Coming, attacks science like evolution and even climate change, pushes for new blue laws etc etc they become my problem.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 11:41 AM on October 22, 2006

Diwali in New Delhi seems to involve fireworks as well as lights. Lots of fireworks. All night. In hotel courtyards.
posted by Quietgal at 11:44 AM on October 22, 2006

yah! I miss the fireworks going off all night for days and the night sky smoggy with air pollution and the smell of sulphur. Its cold then in Delhi, and you drive around in the car looking at the lighting displays to the sound of fireworks. Next year I think I will go to New Delhi for diwali.
posted by infini at 2:38 PM on October 22, 2006

Familiar gods are boring.--and invisible. That's part of the appeal of visible ones.
posted by amberglow at 3:39 PM on October 22, 2006

Hindu don't prosyletize

Hindus *can't* proselytise - you are either born a Hindu, or not. You cannot be converted to Hinduism.

I spent Diwali once in Amritsar, at the Golden Temple. Good times. There were certainly plenty of fireworks going off in the town that night, but most seemed to be bungers thrown from the rooves by children at passers-by. The next morning you couldn't see more than 20m in front of you, for all the sulphur smoke in the air.

Familiar gods are boring.--and invisible.

And not blue. And not many-armed.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:31 PM on October 22, 2006

So if someone takes up the practice of Hinduism as an adult, with no prior family history - are they considered "just pretending" or to have discovered their true faith and not known they were Hindu all along?
posted by casarkos at 9:00 PM on October 22, 2006

they may discover the faith and be respected for that but cannot be a hindu in the sense of having a caste, gotra, clan, community, subcastes and sub clans in the complex stratification of hindu society. hinduism is aphilosophy, a religion, a way of life, each of these seperately, all of the above together.
posted by infini at 11:48 PM on October 22, 2006

I'm not entirely sure if its a derivation or what, but in Nepal, at least the more mountainous regions, its referred to as "Deepawalli" or something like that. About 10 years ago when I was tripping around there, I was privilaged to see the festival in one of the largish villages along the Annapurna trekking route. I forget the name of the village, but it sat high on a precipitous canyon and at night, as my friend and I sat drinking beer, we could see a snake of candlelights across the canyon, following the trails. Children came to the "hotel" we were staying at and sang too. It was beautiful.
posted by elendil71 at 8:32 AM on October 23, 2006

Hindu don't prosyletize

Hindus *can't* proselytise - you are either born a Hindu, or not. You cannot be converted to Hinduism.

Though ideologically the philosophy of Hinduism might be what you described above. But try telling that to the right-wing Hindu parties. They go one step further. They hunt down any Hindus converting to Christanity/Islam and re-convert them back into the Hinduism fold. Recently the south-Indian state of Tamilnadu found a lot of Hindus converting to Christianity because of active evangelism (frankly, some of it's is just poverty alleviation Salvation Army style -- the poor don't care what God they submit to, as long as they can get some food and roof over their heads -- but there is quite a bit of genuine conversion going all around in India, especially the south) , and TN chief minister passed some laws that banned conversions. The right-wing parties BJP & coalition, which IIRC were in power at the time, supported those laws. And frankly if their support is anything to go by, I'd say half the practising Hindus in India hold similar views.

Happy Diwali!
posted by forwebsites at 11:50 AM on October 23, 2006

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